Synopsis: All anyone can talk about is the visiting prince, Sebastian, who has come to England to discuss trade agreements and choose a british bride. But when his personal secretary is found murdered after a ball, even a local Ladies Gazette speculates on the culprit after receiving an anonymous tip. Sebastian tracks down the gazette owners, and teams up with Eliza to catch the murderer. He was not expecting to fall for a commoner –something his father would never allow– and now he has to choose between his country or his heart.
Cover: There is not much I love more than a gorgeous ball gown, and the one Eliza is wearing is a stunner. Needless to say, it is what grabbed my attention and convinced me to read a regency novel despite not having read one in months.
Layout: Each chapter opened with an article from the gazette the fmc and her sister published. However, rather than being witty and well-written, they were clunky and lacked paragraph segues.
Writing Style: I found Julia London’s writing to be a bit awkward at times, as it felt a bit like someone was summarizing events that happened to them rather than allowing the reader experiencing it with the fmc. This was particularly prevalent in the beginning of the novel, but popped up sporadically later on.
POV: The novel opens from the perspective of the fmc’s father, making for a very slow start that made me think he was going to have a perspective throughout the novel. It later switches to Eliza and Sebastian taking turns, which is a much better choice.
Plot: I found the basic premise overall rather difficult to believe –that of a prince and a “commoner” meeting at a ball and then deciding to solve a crime together. Admittedly it is an interesting way to throw two unlikely people together repeatedly, but it didn’t feel like a good fit. Plus, Eliza had been “ruined” some years prior and would likely have never been permitted entry to a private event (not even a masque).
Romance: Despite the absurdity of the storyline, I adored the tension between Eliza and Sebastian. She is delightful, stubborn, irreverent, smart, and perfect for the lonely prince. While I wondered how the pair would go from the antagonistic butting of heads during of their initial meetings to becoming lovers by the end, I had hope for the HEA with no notion how it would actually come about.
Quote: Great wealth and responsibility must come at the expense of something else.
Verdict: While I enjoyed the book well enough to keep reading, I cannot say that I would ever read it again. It just felt too much like the author was pulling the best bits of other literature (such as the Bridgerton series and even Spiderman!) rather than making something wonderful on her own. I might pick up another Julia London book, and probably will try out the rest of the Royal Wedding series, but if I had the choice I would rather read a different Julia’s regencies.